The cold has arrived, and with snow blanketing many parts of the country the NZ Transport Agency reminds parents that the winter festival season is just around the corner.
For parents with teenagers heading to one of the many winter festivals scheduled for the next few months, it is time to start thinking about how you can help your teen drivers prepare for a safe journey to and from their festival destination. Remember, it is not just advice for when they arrive at the event that is useful - but guidance for the drive there and back is vital too.
For some teens, this will be their first experience of driving long distances in potentially wet and icy conditions - a stressful experience for both the driver and the parent waiting at home.
The NZTA has created a dedicated website to help parents with teen drivers - www.safeteendriver.co.nz(external link) - which offers a set of practical skills and free tools to encourage parents to work alongside their teens to help identify and manage risk situations, when driving by themselves.
"The Safe Teen Driver website not only provides useful festival hazard advice to discuss with your teen, it also suggests some different ways to talk about the risks so they don't think you're over-reacting," says the NZTA's Regional Manager Northern Access and Use, Rick Barber.
The NZTA suggests the following tips for driving to the Mountain Mardi Gras at Ohakune on 23 June:
Mr Barber says there can be extreme shifts in weather at this time of year and people should allow plenty of time for their travel so that there is no need to rush if driving conditions become difficult.
"Whichever route your teenager takes, they'll need to make sure they plan their route before they leave and allow for rest and refreshment stops on the way, as it's a long drive. Fatigue can be an issue on the return trip, particularly if they have been skiing all weekend.
"Some sections of the SH1 may not see the sun until late in the morning and can be icy even when the road appears to be dry and ice free elsewhere. Talk to your teen about safe driving in icy conditions and use the opportunity to increase their skills in the challenging conditions found on roads at altitude," Mr Barber says.
Other key areas the NZTA encourages parents to discuss with their teen drivers include:
Highlighting the best route and busy areas
Where possible, parents should thoroughly plan their teen's route with them, so they can concentrate on driving and not be distracted by navigating.
The www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) site lists current road conditions and any delays, hazards or closures on the state highway network.
The importance of getting enough sleep
Even moderate sleep deprivation can be dangerous when driving.
Driving at night
40% of crashes involving young drivers happen when it's dark.
Driving with friends in the car
When a young driver has two or more passengers in the car with them, they're ten times more likely to have a crash than if they were driving alone. If those passengers are about the same age as the driver, the risk is more than fifteen times higher than if they were driving alone.
Please visit www.safeteendriver.co.nz/festivalmap/(external link) for more tips.